Blogs | Sports | News
Bucco Blog

Cardinals close defensive divide … And does Kendrys Morales have the Bourn identity?


SOUTH HILLS – When St. Louis traded postseason hero David Freese to the Angels for center fielder Peter Bourjos  they immediately improved at three defensive positions.


Bourjos is so good in center, that he pushed Mike Trout to left field in LA.


Matt Carpenter is expected to shift to his natural third base position and prospect Kolten Wong will likely occupy second base. Those are two more defensive upgrades.

This is a big deal for the Pirates and the Reds because they held a considerable defensive advantage over the Cardinals last season.


The Reds led baseball in defensive efficiency,  the measure of how many batted balls are turned into outs. Thanks to their defensive plan (shifting, groundballs and an athletic outfield) the Pirates ranked 5th in defensive efficiency.


The Cardinals ranked 21st.
The Cardinals are going to improve on that number.



The Cardinals closed the defensive divide in the NL Central on Friday and that means they widened the gap in the division.


This trade will allow the Cardinals to improve defensively, and it could be a dramatic improvement if manager Mike Matheny buys into more defensive shifting in 2014. Matheny said in Oct. the Cardinals didn’t shift as much because the staff wasn’t comfortable with it.


Of course if Matheny is not open minded to shifting, and he just singed a three-year extension, the Cardinals will not close the gap with their division rivals.


Now trading Freese for Bourjos weakens a lineup to a degree, and Carlos Beltran is a free agent, but Oscar Taveras is the top hitting prospect in baseball and figures to shift into right field.


The Cardinals’ lineup might take a slight hit but Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal all got a little better Friday. That’s scary for the NL Central.


So can the Pirates respond by addressing their biggest liabilities: right side of the power field power, specifically first base?




Remember when Michael Bourn received a qualifying offer last year from the Braves and languished on the free agent market until small-market Cleveland signed him on Feb. 12?


I wonder if free agent first baseman Kendrys Morales is this year’s Bourn.


The qualifying offer hurts Morales because every contending team would have to give up their 2014 first-round draft pick to sign him, also by turning down a one-year $14 million deal his asking price is probably a bit optimistic.


At the moment there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for Morales. I wonder if this could drive down the 30-year-old’s asking price and if he might find himself still unsigned after the New Year.


Morales might not be what he was in 2009, but he put up respectable numbers in an awful hitting environment last season.


His career triple-slash line: .280/.333/.480


He’s a rare switch hitter with power who doesn’t require a platoon partner.


It’s a long shot, but perhaps he could be on the Pirates’ radar in January/February of 2014.


Maybe the Pirates weren’t willing to go 2y/$18 on Marlon Byrd. But what about similar dollars for Morales if his number comes down? Unlikely but plausible perhaps.





  1. Brendan says:

    The big question with regard to Morales it seems to me is not his bat but whether he can play regular at 1B. Over the past two seasons, since returning from his horrific ankle injury, he’s played 28 & 31 games at 1B and 92 & 122 at DH.

  2. Travis Sawchik says:

    That’s another question, agreed. Justin Smoak is younger and more athletic so that might have kept Morales as DH as much as any health related issues.

  3. Andrew says:

    No on Morales, he does nothing other than hit home runs and get credit for RBIs. Quite possibly the worst base runner in the major leagues and a DH in the field. Not worth the salary he will sign for, let alone the draft pick.

  4. JimBibbySweat says:

    Morales may be the biggest base clogger in baseball, right up there with Adam Dunn. A no. 1 pick for him, too? No thanks. Nice shout out to Bernie on Bourjos. For the Pirates’ sake, it’s good he’s injury prone. Watching him against the Bucs, he went in high, spikes first, at second base. Nasty player. The kind you’d like on your team, hate on the other one. I didn’t look at the fielding metrics on the Reds, but if Choo leaves, I could see them improving in the OF, too. Hamilton would run down more, though I’m not sure how his move from SS to OF has really gone. Enjoy reading the blog.

  5. leefoo says:

    Andrew…I’m with you 100%. I read where his defense makes GI Jones’ defense look world class.

  6. leefoo says:

    I really thought the Reds would be on Bourjos more than St Louis. Hopefully, their offense will degrade as their defense improves.

  7. Brendan says:

    I’d also add that his career line is somewhat inflated by his excellent 2009. It seems reasonable to suggest he’s not that player anymore. His 2012 and 2013 lines seems closer to what we might expect from him:

    2009 – 306/355/569
    2012 – 273/320/476
    2013 – 277/336/449

  8. Brendan says:

    I’m assuming Billy Hamilton will be the starting CF if they don’t retain Choo–which it seems likely they won’t.

  9. Brendan says:

    Oops just noticed that was mentioned above.

  10. Foo says:

    Bad news…according to MLBTR, the Cards are close to signing Perslta.

  11. Jim says:

    Pirates sitting on their hands. Lost out on Josh Johnson. Peralta was possible for SS. David Murphy and Byrd gone. So who’s gonna play 1B and RF. These spots are not gonna get fixed on their own. Are they waiting on AJ to decide if he wants to play? Come on Pirates Cardinals are getting better as you sit on the sidelines.

  12. The Gunner says:

    There was no way Peralta was going to sign with the Buccos.

  13. NMR says:

    Great post, Jim.

  14. Nate83 says:

    I”m thinking Foo was implying it was bad news because the Cardinals just got better at a position of weakness instead of the Pirates not getting him.

  15. The Gunner says:

    If that is the case, I agree about Peralta. Any thoughts on whether AJ will re-up with Bucs or has he decided filed his retirement paperwork?

  16. NMR says:

    I know it is getting old for some Pirate fans, but these are the St Louis Cardninals. This is what they do.

    Identify needs. Fill them. And make it easy while they’re at it.

  17. The Gunner says:


    You are right about the Cardinals and their “get it done” mentality. I am sure NH has something up his sleeve to improve the offense in 2014.

  18. NMR says:

    -Kendrys Morales absolutely does have a market, and will as long as Jack Zduriencik is the General Manager of the Seattle Mariners.

    Just say no.

    -Regarding the Pirates and their holes, my theory is as follows…

    They will not, nor did they plan to, add a significant free agent right fielder. The mid-tier guys like Byrd, Young, and Murphy are already gone without a peep of interest. It’s going to be Tabby/Lambo until Gregory Polanco forces his way into the mix.

    They also never were contenders for a free agent shortstop, for obvious reasons.

    Josh Johnson was the primary free agent target. The business with AJ, qualifying offers, and percentage of payroll was done with a target budget in mind. One that included Josh Johnson. With Johnson gone, they’re plan will have to adjust. I’m positive, however, if AJ wants to pitch, the Pirates will have the money to pay him if they do not sign another free agent starter.

    They do not feel any of the free agent first basemen fit the “Russell Martin” mold of best player available at greatest position of need. If they did believe somebody like James Loney would constitute a major upgrade, they would’ve already been after him before the rest of the market plays out. They won’t sign anybody til after the Winter Meetings, where they will discuss trades before settling on their pick of free agent upgrade.

    Ultimately, they’ll end up with at least one starting pitcher not name Burnett and a new first basemen from outside the organization while also bringing back Clint Barmes.

  19. NMR says:

    For what its worth, I think the Cards also benefitted a bit from circumstance.

    The Angels were an absolutely perfect match. Further, I think they exhausted all potential SS trades without finding a way to keep their young pitchers, at which point the best free agent shortstop was the obvious target. No surprise they considered Peralta over Drew given the latter would cost their top draft pick.

    Really no reason to drag this out any further, from my perspective. Sometimes the pieces just come together.

  20. Nate83 says:

    I think he will and I personally do not think money is the hold up. My guess is that they offered him 12M maybe 13M and he is just deciding if his heart is in it to play one more year. It’s a big decision that we as fans take for granted. I would rather him take a few weeks and make sure he will be 100% in then just say yes and only give 75% of himself and go through the motions. I have to imagine the Pirates have a drop dead date and maybe that is getting close.

  21. The Gunner says:

    That was a lot of information, NMR. I concur that you are on the right track about the Bucs. And, take it to the bank, Barmes will definitely be back.

  22. Nate83 says:

    I personally do not believe RF is a problem. 1B needs to be addressed and starting pitching depth. A player with Tabata’s stats would probably get 5-7 million in free agency. I can’t imagine what a “upgrade” would cost and why the Pirates would decide to spend what little money is available to upgrade a position that is already not that bad and has a potential big upgrade coming as soon as June or July. If we get a first baseman that can play right field as well then it’s a bonus but I don’t feel it’s an absolute need.

    Sadly I think one of our best options is the 2012 version of Jones. Could he be non-tendered but still re-signed later as an option?

  23. Nate83 says:

    Your last sentence is spot on with waht I think will happen this off-season for the Pirates. The only think I’m not sure about is if the Starting Pitcher or First Basemen comes via trade or free agency. They are definately the two holes I see and the front office proved last year they are no longer interested in filling holes with adequate stop gaps but instead players that contribute to a winning team.

    4 years for Peralta is way to long with the amount of questions surrounding him. I also don’t know if Carpenter is as valuable at 3rd as he was at second. The cards will be a very interesting team to watch next year. What will Lynn end up being. Is Shelby Miller going to progress or is he a one pitch pitcher that the league will adjust to. Will there lack of power hurt them (added Peralta, lost Beltran, moved a +power second baseman to third). Will Molina stay healthy (he will be 32 years old). Can Bourjous stay healthy and hit well enough.

Other blogs
Sports: Rob Rossi | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | iPreps | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports
News: This Just In | Trib List | ICycle | Flow Back | Stories Behind Trib Stories  

» Top Sports » Top News » Top Breaking News